Tuesday, July 29
We could not resist driving the Beartooth Highway again. We went all the way to Red Lodge. We had to, as we needed gas. It was cold and windy on the Wyoming side and warm on the Montana side. It was 51 on top and 83 back in the CG.
Wednesday, July 30
We drove back to west entrance of Yellowstone and made home in the first FS CG north on US287. Big rigs, electricity and weak internet. Tomorrow, we jump off the grid again.
Thursday, July 31
We headed north and west to Big Hole country. I had read that this was some of the most scenic in the Montana. It was OK. We spent a few hours at the Big Hole Battleground where the Calvary massacred some of the Nez Perce. Orders were to fire three rounds low into the tipi’s at daybreak and then charge. They killed a lot of Indians, women and children, but the warriors routed the Calvary. We spent the night in a FS CG a little further down MT 43.
Friday, August 1, 2008
We dropped down 2,500 feet real fast on a wide two-lane road and another thousand feet by the time we got to Missoula, which is at 3,100 feet. This is lower than we have been since we left Nebraska.
We spent the day in Missoula shopping in the big box stores, mostly buying things we did not really need. We took the tour of the Smoke Jumpers School. Interesting. It was almost six when we were through shopping, so we decided to spend our first night ever at Wal-Mart. The parking lot already had several rigs, so we parked behind the store. There were only four rigs there. As we left the next morning, Dorothy counted 16 rigs in the parking lot.
Saturday, August 2
We drove from Missoula to an unmarked CG named Colgate on the Lochsa River. We have the rear of the rig backed up to the babbling river. There are only seven sites here and it’s free. Mark and Dan are brothers and our neighbors. Mark worked for Jack Schaeffer for a time, he now lives just north of Portland. Dan lives in Orlando, but owns hunting property near Andalusia. They have fished most of the western rivers. They caught about 50 yesterday. They said it was some of the best fishing they had enjoyed in a long time. All catch and release here. We talked and drank until after midnight.
Sunday, August 3
We explored the road west of here, but found nothing exciting or especially scenic. We came back had a late lunch and a two hour nap. It will be quiet without Mark and Dan tonight.
Monday, August 4
I came to Idaho to see jagged fin mountains. So far I have seen one that was half-decent. We drove nine miles up a FS road to intersect the Lolo Motorway, which roughly follows the Nez Perce trail and the same route Lewis and Clark took. I wanted to “get on top” and see what the mountains looked like. At 5,000 feet we could see plenty of mountains, both north and south, but all were tree covered, no jagged peaks. And so it goes. We need to get south where the elevation is higher and there is promise of jagged peaks.
We took a one-mile hike through the forest to Sinque Hole. According to the sign this was the exact path of the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark. The hike was good, the sink hole was not much. A 4x4 Sportsmobile passed us on the way down.
We came back down the mountain and looked for shade in the afternoon heat of 83.
We had a campfire with Myron and Irene, farmers from Alberta.
Tuesday, August 5
The sun does not get into the campsite until after 8 am, so we are sleeping late. We got away at 9:30 and continued west on US12 to Wilderness CG, where we took on fresh water, dumped, parked and showered using all the water we wanted to. We then returned and filled the water tank again and dumped the shower water.
We stopped for the day at O’Hara CG on the Selway River. This is a very popular place for reasons lost on me. The river is fine, but not exceptional. Since we are even lower now, the heat is worse. It may make 100 this afternoon.
Wednesday, August 6 – Dorothy’s birthday. We went south down yet another river valley to Riggins, ID. We had seen an ad for prime rib and Banana’s Foster at the Seven Devils Saloon’s. It sounded just right for Dorothy’s birthday dinner. It was closed. We settled on third best, a family restaurant.
Thursday, August 7
We did not see Hell’s Canyon in 2006 due to smoke from forest fires. We succeeded today. We took a 17 mile drive on a good rock road to Seven Devil’s Recreation Area and it was worth the trip. Don got to see some jagged peaks. We hiked a ½ mile uphill to Heaven’s Gate overlook and spent about 2 hours just looking at the Seven Devils and enjoying the cool temperatures. It was almost clear. We could see the Walla Mountains 50 miles across the gourge. Brad and Mary Ann who have been working on the lookout for a month said it was one of the clearest days they have seen.
Friday, August 8
We drove nearly five long hours on rock roads to get to and get back from the Ghost town of Florence. There was not much left of the 1860 town. The drive above the Salmon River did provide a few good views of the river canyon. Not one of our great touring days.
We had cocktails with two Texans who still like W, Carl and Peggy.